Paphos: Fall in love with the birthplace of Aphrodite in Cyprus | Short & City breaks | Travel

The birthplace of Greek goddess of love Aphrodite gifts visitors ancient sites, vineyards and clear-blue sea under 300 days of sunshine a year, together with familiar comforts such as English spoken by all, driving on the left and even an M&S.

Nestling on Cyprus’ south-west coast, it’s where the Troodos mountains meet the sea and is home to avocado and banana plantations.

The city is divided into two neighbourhoods; the stately Ktima with British colonial buildings, schools and museums all sat around the town square and Kato Paphos, which stretches along the harbour and is full of good seafood restaurants, souvenir shops and even a few British pubs.

It is no accident the house of the original party animal Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, can be found near here.

Life on the waterside is guarded by a squat castle.

Originally built as a Byzantine fort, it was taken over by Crusaders in the 13th century, attacked by the Venetians in the 16th century and used as a salt warehouse by the British in the 19th century.

Now it helps stage open-air cultural events. There’s no doubt this mix of mythology, past empires and proud modern Cypriot identity led Paphos to being awarded European capital of culture for this year.

With a fortification design nod to the castle, my hotel, The Elysium, is the perfect resting place and setting off point for all the region has to offer.

Alongside rooms are maisonettes, designed in a traditional Cypriot style with terracotta tiles and very high ceilings.

With beautiful grounds, large pools, spa, six restaurants serving a range of superb international cuisine and the best sommelier on the island in Yiannis Stefanides, The Elysium is the obvious accompaniment to Paphos.

The hotel is also ideally positioned for a beautiful coastal walk to town and sits between two epic world heritage sites: The Tombs Of The Kings and the Paphos Archeological Park.

You can spend a few hours imagining you are Indiana Jones or Lara Croft discovering Hellenistic and Roman structures by the sea and a few more hours coming face to face with third-century Cypriots enjoying local wine in dazzlingly well-preserved mosaics. Each tells a vivid story.

Take a trip to the interior and you can explore today’s winemaking. I visited the hilltop Vasilikon winery with its vast views over vineyards towards the sea on the horizon, and the village-based Kyperounta winery near Mount Olympus.

Both of these excel at using native grape varieties such as mavro, maratheftiko (reds)…

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